Entertainment behind the scenes
A night for crayons and Motown on “American Idol”
Well, they’re the experts and on Wednesday night it was male contestant Adam Lambert who brought the heat, eliciting a standing ovation from celebrity mentor Smokey Robinson for his version of “The Tracks of My Tears” (which, incidentally, Robinson also wrote).
Then, judge Kara DioGuardi stood up herself and called it “one of the best performances of the night.” Cowell himself went so far as to say it was the night’s best performance.
Unlike last week, when Lambert soured the judges during “Country Week” with an eccentric Middle Eastern-inspired version of the Johnny Cash classic “Ring of Fire,” he sang his Motown song with a restraint that cunningly played down the soaring crescendos of Robinson’s composition. Lambert’s acoustic version of the song pleased all the judges.
But showing that women have something going for them this season, 16-year-old contestant Allison Iraheta countered with her version of “Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone” by The Temptations, mixing some staccato vocals with her gravelly-voiced soul.
“You sing like you’ve been singing for 400 years,” DioGuardi said, in an attempt to dispel any lingering doubts about Iraheta’s maturity. “That is from God, you can’t teach that,” the judge said.
It was Motown week on “American Idol,” and next to Motown singing legend Smokey Robinson sat the 79-year-old Berry Gordy, founder of the record label named after Detroit’s auto industry.
In an interesting segment, oil rig worker Michael Sarver went into his performance of “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg” by The Temptations planning to “church it up,” meaning to give a soulful rendition of the song. But Robinson insisted that the man singing the song is more than just begging, he is demanding one last chance at love with his woman. Sarver seemed to perform it that way, confidently strutting across the stage, but his rendition was met with cold rebukes by all four judges.
“Michael, at this point in the competition it’s not about singing it’s about artistry,” DioGuardi said. “And I think what we’re looking for is an artist, and that’s somebody who interprets it in their own way and makes it their own,” she said, adding that she felt Sarver fell short of that standard.
In a childish but entertaining diversion to the night’s show, judge Paula Abdul presented Simon Cowell with a box of crayons and a coloring book, in an apparent dig at the alpha judge. But by the end of the night, Cowell had drawn a fake mustache on Abdul.
Going back to Cowell’s prediction on “The Tonight Show,” will this season’s champion be a man or a woman? Based on Wednesday night’s performance, it seems that Iraheta will be no easy obstacle for any male contestant wanting the “Idol” crown.